Grandeur to punish bookies for second time at Lingfield
JOURNALIST Matthew Norman once said that "the only way to beat the bookies, as every punter knows, is over the soft part of the skull with a crowbar".
I think we've all felt like doing that at some stage or other but, in fairness to the old enemy, making a book is not as easy as it looks, and there are certain races in the calendar where they too are left feeling exasperated.
For example, take Lingfield's Winter Derby Trial (3.25), which was established in the late '90s: it has had just one winner priced in double figures since 1999 and punters have certainly had the upper hand here, with the last seven winners all being favourites.
It's hard to say why a certain race might be more predictable than another - there are never any certainties in this game. But as a Listed contest, it does tend to attract the same sort of horses every year, namely mildly exposed sorts with a reasonable amount of talent.
Because most of the horses entered have been around for a bit (the average age of last year's line-up was just over five-and-a-half), their ratings are fairly accurate and, as such, the form seems to stands up well.
Likely favourite Grandeur won this 12 months ago for Jeremy Noseda at 4/5 under Ryan Moore and I can't see any reason why the six-year-old won't complete the double this afternoon at what appear to be generous odds of 7/4.
Just like last year, he'll be carrying 9st 3lbs when penalties for previous wins are taken into account and once again, he's the top-rated horse in the field although it must be noted that he's down 7lbs on last year to 109.
The assessor is usually spot on with these sort of horses although I do think it was a bit harsh to cut Grandeur's mark from 114 to 109 following his latest run in a Group Three at Newmarket in October, in which he finished second-last of the 13 runners. On paper, it looks very poor but this horse simply can't handle softer ground and he appeared uncomfortable almost as soon as he left the stalls.
I think it's safe to leave that race aside for analytical purposes and there are plenty of positives to be drawn from some previous runs, such as his Listed win at Goodwood and a similar victory here on the all-weather. Noseda is not afraid to let him travel and back in July, he was only beaten by a head in a Group Two at Belmont Park.
It's always a bit of a gamble when a horse hasn't raced in quite a while but assuming he's retained most of his ability, he'll have enough to see off Marco Botti's Grendisar (7/2).
That horse is respected and arrives on the back of a Listed win here in December, but he's a quirky sort which needs a very good gallop to be seen to best effect.
BOTH Easter Day (9/2) and Fox Appeal (5/1) are likely to prove popular in the BetBright Chase at Kempton (3.45). The former is improving all the time and could have more to come while the latter has the form in the book to land this sort of race.
But if you ask me, this is far more open than the market suggests and those odds are a little short - so an each-way chance is taken on Lucinda Russell's Tap Night, which was available yesterday at 10/1. A decent sort over both fences and hurdles, he slips in nicely at the bottom of the weights off a mark of 130.
He was third off that rating last time in a Grade Three Handicap at Cheltenham and it's hoped that headgear can help his concentration as he tends to get distracted.
1.05 Fairyhouse: Vercingetorix
2.0 Kempton: Bivouac
2.05 Fairyhouse: Spring Heeled
2.35 Kempton: God's Own
3.25 Lingfield: Grandeur
3.45 Kempton: Tap Night (e/w)